Live Below the Line Day 1: In summary

No idea what that title alludes to? Shame on you. Read this.

If you’re completely au fait with what this is, then you spend too much time following my life. Stop it. I can see you in that tree, don’t you think that owl costume is fooling anybody.

So this was my dinner, which was rose veal in a light blackcurrant jus on a bed of crunchy spring vegetables:

The veal worked superbly with the jus, but perhaps a selection of microherbs would have taken this dish from cow to wow

Just kidding, it was rice.

More accurately, it was egg-fried rice (as in I literally threw an egg into it and wafted it near a hot pan for 30 seconds), with a half clove of garlic and a suggestion of soy sauce to really make it something special. It was actually ok, but it did seem to be missing some small details, like an entire chicken breast and a creamy mushroom sauce.

To be concise, the rice was nice.

So here is my precise consumption for the day, so you know I’m doing this right:

3 eggs – 24p

4 slices bread – 8p

1/6th jar peanut butter – 10p

100g value rice – 4p

1 clove garlic – 3p (Assuming 10 cloves per bulb. I counted…)

5ml soy sauce – 4p

1 Apple – 12p

Total: 65p

Now I was working that out on the fly, and I’m quite surprised that I have 35p left over. It’s 10:30pm, but I feel like 3 Freddos would be a solid investment right now. Or a carrot, or anything non-beige.

Some points to note

  • Tesco Everyday Value is a surprising winner. All the food I’ve eaten today comes from the revamped range, and it actually tastes like food, which is a real plus.
  • I had to leave a bag of 5 peppers behind at Tesco today because they were £1.07 and took me over budget. I miss those peppers.
  • I hope those peppers are somewhere nice now.
  • My housemate cooked fajitas earlier. I wanted to murder her and eat her fajitas.
  • I didn’t tell her that.

Acknowledgements

Huge thanks to my latest donors, I’ve now smashed well into double figures and am on a cool £20. Thankyou to Emma Steventon (@femitarian), Rich Wilson (@richwilson17) and James McCann (who is too cool for Twitter I assume). As a show of gratitude, I have made up a fact about each of these people:

Rich Wilson – 1974 All-Belarus Bear Wrestling Champion. Collects photos of sheep.

Emma Steventon – Future leader of the free world*. Invented the world ‘clamp’.

James McCann – Hobbies include punting whilst enjoying a rather fine Cuban cigar**. Knows every third person on the planet***.

More updates tomorrow, I’ll let you know the joys of value porridge oats heated in a microwave with water.

P.S. If you’re still bored, check out this. It’s the best £5 you’ll ever spend.

*Will actually happen at some point.

**Already true.

***If this isn’t true then it certainly seems like it.

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Who needs nutrients anyway?

I’m sincerely hoping the answer is a resounding ‘Nobody’, because this is my food for the week:

Even the iPod dock is laughing at me

As perhaps some of you may know, this week I’m undertaking the Live Below the Line Challenge, where I’ve agreed to eat and drink on £1 a day or less. Yes, this is a serious post for once. No, don’t navigate away.

Good.

There are a few reasons for this. One is that it’s for a good cause: I’m raising money for Giving Africa, a charity who get a little more sophisticated than the traditional ‘throw money at Africa and hope it pulls through’ approach and actively try and empower children to live healthy and prosperous lives through good education. So far I’ve raised a princely £5 (yes, five pounds), due mostly to my own staggering lack of organisational skills. I would like to say a massive thankyou to the fantastic Mel Phelps for being my whole source of donation so far.*

The second reason is that 1.4 billion people in the world live on less than $1.25 (basically £1) a day. And not in a “£1 is a lot of money in Burkina Faso” way either, but as in the equivalent of what £1 will get you here. Which isn’t exactly gourmet cuisine. I’ve honestly never thought about this too much, but it dawned on me just yesterday that £1 is really sod all money to live on.

I was sat in a café with a friend drinking macchiatos, which is apparently the done thing in London, and decided I wanted a cool and refreshing drink to go with the caffeine. With said drink purchased the combined cost of small coffee and fruity beverage was £4.70. Which is almost 5 days worth of food and drink for a quarter of the world. And at the risk of sounding ultra-British here, that’s just not on.

So today I ambled down to Tesco and bought my food for the week, which was, in short, depressing. Here’s my receipt, and from the above you can see what I’ll be chowing down on for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Yes, I do expect you to read that sideways.

Whilst I’ve hit my budget of a fiver for the week pretty well, I can’t help but feel that this is not a sustainable list of foodstuffs. There are things I have in abundance, like carbs and eggs, but there are things I lack, like the following:

  • Meat
  • Bacon
  • Meat
  • Cheese
  • Scurvy preventers
  • Vegetables
  • Nutrients
  • Meat
  • Fun

Which, as you’ll all agree, are most of the major food groups. My plan for the week is as follows:

  1. Eat porridge oats heated up with water and jam for breakfast (caveat: I don’t like porridge)
  2. Have sachet soup for lunch (caveat: That looks fucking awful so I’ll probably swap for peanut butter sandwiches)
  3. Snack on an apple (apparently they’re ‘fun-sized’. I do not yet see the fun.)
  4. Have variations on egg fried rice for tea (throw in kidney beans Thurs/Fri as a real treat)
  5. Weep almost continually

Personally I think that’s a winning strategem.

So I’ll be keeping this up to date throughout the week and you can feel my pain or laugh as you eat steak and lobster, it’s really your call. Today so far my food has been two eggs (8p each) on dry toast (2p per slice), and it was exactly as dull as it sounds.

This is going to be a rough week.

*And if you too would like to be as fantastic as the amazing Mel Phelps (and maybe get your name up on here to be lauded by my nearly 7 readers), then why not fire some money my way at  www.livebelowtheline.com/me/sparky205 

Thaaaaaaaaaaaanks.

MI6 Spy death ‘a bit fishy’, concludes coroner

In a shock admission by the coroner’s office today, it was announced that MI6 codebreaker Gareth Williams, who was found dead padlocked inside a large bag, may not have done it himself.

A statement released by the coroner read as follows: “Having weighed up the evidence, it’s difficult to reach a verdict on whether the sad, sinister and ludicrously-reported death of Mr Williams was inflicted by himself or another. On the one hand, he was found dead padlocked inside a large bag, but on the other hand we also found a ladies’ wig in his bedroom and we suspect he may have been gay.

“So frankly we’re stumped.”

“Nothing suspicious here at all…”

As part of the not-at-all farcical inquiry, an ‘expert witness’ was employed to try and padlock himself inside a large bag and then kill himself. After failing once, the witness was forced to repeat his attempt a mere 300 times, with investigators surprised and disappointed that the laws of physics refused to break even once. At one point, it was thought that a muffled cry of “SUCCESS!” was heard from inside the test-bag, but it later transpired that the phrase uttered was “This is fucking stupid”.

The same witness, who as well as being quite good in a tight space is also a specialist in sniffing out the most monumental bullshit, brought his expertise to bear at the hearing:

“I first began to suspect that the man found dead padlocked inside a large bag had not committed suicide when I discovered that he was found dead locked inside a large bag. Admittedly, the usual elements of suicide were present: the victim was dead, but the real clue for me was that he was dead INSIDE A FUCKING BAG.”

MI6 officials are said to be stunned at the verdict, having been strong in their opinion that this was just a run-of-the-mill mysterious spy suicide.

“We were gobsmacked”, admitted one officer, notable for his pixelated face and actor’s voice. “You may think it unusual, but suicides like this happen all the time in the Service. I remember one chap who cut himself into 89 pieces and scattered himself liberally between Minsk and Dubrovnik a few years back. At first some people suggested he might not have topped himself, but we didn’t find any fingerprints at the scenes so it was definitely suicide.

“Then there was old Binky Rogers, who managed to shoot himself in the head from 300 yards away.

“Such imagination.”

A hastily-drafted statement from the Intelligence Community offered a bullish reprimand to the coroner: “Just because something is undeniably true does not mean it is true. We are not prepared to let fact, evidence or reason stand in the way of our overarching narrative on this subject.

“Did we mention he was a cross-dresser?

“Again, truth has no place in this inquiry. It is high time we stood up for our right to let unsubstantiated, defamatory myths triumph over objective fact, and we are appalled that our unsustainable version of events has been so savagely oppressed by this investigation.

“You’re basically all Stalin.”

In a separate event, the coroner also released a statement today announcing that the sun will ‘probably’ rise tomorrow.

So at least there’s that to look forward to.